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NAME OF ORGANISATION
The Underemployed Workers (UEW) survey provides information about workers who are not fully employed, i.e. part-time workers who indicate that they would prefer to work more hours, and full-time workers who did not work full-time hours in the reference period for economic reasons. This group includes 'time-related underemployed' workers. Measures of underemployment supplement other measures of labour market slack such as the number of unemployed persons and discouraged job seekers.
While basic data on underemployment are available from the Labour Force Survey, this supplementary survey provides greater detail on the characteristics and the job search activities of this important segment of labour underutilisation. The data also provide important support to policy formulation, as well as for labour market forecasts, and are an important source for those concerned with employment policy initiatives, and benefit and support programs.
This survey is conducted as part of the Monthly Population Survey, which comprises the Labour Force Survey and, in most months, a supplementary survey topic.
SCOPE - Labour Force Survey
The Labour Force Survey includes all persons aged 15 and over except:
From July 1993 Jervis Bay Territory is also excluded from the scope of the survey. Before July 1993 it was included in estimates for the Australian Capital Territory.
SCOPE - Underemployed workers
The scope of this survey was the same as that used for the Labour Force Survey (above), except that it is restricted to persons who worked less than 35 hours in the reference week who would have preferred more hours. This survey excludes students who were boarding at school, patients in hospitals and sanatoriums and inmates of reformatories, gaols, etc.
From July 1997, all supplementary surveys excluded persons in remote and sparsely settled areas of Australia. The exclusion of these persons has only a minor effect on estimates for individual States or Territories.
COVERAGE - Labour Force Survey
In the Labour Force Survey, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling, and hence has only one chance of selection. The chance of a person being enumerated at two separate dwellings in the one survey is considered to be negligible.
Persons who are away from their usual residence for six weeks or less at the time of interview are enumerated at their usual residence (relevant information may be obtained from other usual residents present at the time of the survey).
The labour force framework classifies the civilian population into three mutually exclusive groups: employed; unemployed; and not in the labour force. The employed and unemployed categories together make up the labour force. The third category (i.e. the residual) represents persons not in the labour force.
In this survey, the largest population of interest is the part-time workers wanting to work more hours. The ABS conceptual framework for underemployment separates employed persons into two mutually exclusive groups:
Fully employed workers comprise: employed persons who worked full-time during the reference week (includes persons who usually work part-time); employed persons who usually work full-time but worked part-time in the reference week for non-economic reasons (including illness or injury; leave, holiday or flextime; and personal reasons) and part-time workers (usually work part-time and did so in the reference week) who do not want additional hours of work.
This diagram is the most recent conceptual framework for the Underemployed Workers survey 2003 collection. There have been a couple of major changes to the framework since the initial publication of the survey in 1985. For more information please refer to the relevant publications. Electonic copies are only available since September 1997.
The ABS underemployment framework classifies persons who are not fully employed according to whether they are looking for and/or available to start work with more hours. The framework separately identifies persons wanting full-time hours and persons wanting more part-time hours. These persons are further classified according to whether they had looked for extra work during the four weeks prior to the survey, and whether they were available to start extra work (either in the reference week or in the four weeks subsequent to the survey).
Persons who usually work full-time, but worked part-time in the reference week for economic reasons, are separately identified in the underemployment framework. It is assumed that these people wanted to work full-time in the reference week and would have been available to do so.
DEFINITION OF UNDEREMPLOYMENT
The ABS definition of the underemployed is consistent with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition of time-related underemployment.
According to the ILO definition adopted in 1998, time-related underemployment exists when the hours of work of an employed person are below a threshold, and are insufficient in relation to an alternative employment situation in which the person is willing and available to engage. More specifically, persons in time-related underemployment comprise all employed persons (as defined) who satisfy the following three criteria:
UNDEREMPLOYED WORKERS SURVEY
The Underemployed Workers Survey is the primary ABS data source on underemployment. It provides a wide range of information about underemployed workers, including information on the number of hours usually worked, number of preferred hours, steps taken to find work with more hours, and difficulties finding work with more hours.
The Labour Force Survey (LFS) collects summary information on underemployed workers on a quarterly basis. It measures only those underemployed workers who were actively looking for more hours of work in the four weeks to the end of the reference week and were available to work more hours in the reference week. Availability to work more hours in the four weeks subsequent to the survey is not currently measured in the LFS.
Results of the survey including data tables and analysis were released in publication format, and include the following tables:
Full-time or part-time workers and part-time workers who want more hours
Part-time workers who want more hours
Number and proportion of the labour force
Usually work part-time and want more hours
Duration of current period of insufficient work
Looking for or available to start work with more hours last week
Looking for or available to start work with more hours
Preferred number of extra hours
Main difficulty in finding work with more hours, preferred number of extra hours
All steps taken to find work in the last four weeks
Total number of extra hours preferred
State or territory of usual residence
Demographics: State, Area, Region, Sex, Marital Status, Relationship in Household, Period of Arrival and Age.
Country of Birth: The Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC).
Educational attainment: Australian Bureau of Statistics Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ), and/or Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED).
Other concepts (summary)
Comments and/or Other Regions
Not all data available for all areas.
The survey has been collected annually since September 1994. Prior to that it was run 3 yearly from May 1985.
Over the time the survey has been conducted there have been some changes to the collection frequency and timing, and publication format.
Data availability comments
Publication Underemployed Workers, Australia (ABS Cat No. 6265.0)
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